In 1986, Koen Vanmechelen created a wooden statue that he later named ‘the Cosmogolem’, because it reminded him of the golem from Jewish folklore. According to legend, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, created by human hand from inanimate matter. In modern culture, we find examples of this golem figure in, for example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Carlo Collodi’s fairy-tale Pinocchio. All of these stories are variations on the same theme and they all have one thing in common: in the end, the maker loses control over his creation. In this way, the Golem is a strong symbol for the ‘makeability’ of man.
The artist, however, interprets his golem more broadly. This is not a brainless and ultimately uncooperative giant. It is not activated by a word on its head and deactivated by removing the letter aleph. The Cosmogolem is activated by those who interact with it. According to Koen Vanmechelen all great inventions are golems. They all result from the human desire to create new applications that make our lives more comfortable. But they also have a destructive power, as seen, for example with the internet. It’s important to be aware of this power but even more to see the strength coming out of the creation of this golem.
Koen Vanmechelen’s CosmoGolem is at once a saviour, a rescuer and a supporter of those who need him most. For these reasons, the project has been taken up and championed by the Belgian Nobel Peace Price nominee Sister Jeanne Devos whom founded the National Domestic Workers Movement in Bombay, an organisation that fights against child labour, child trafficking, child prostitution, child soldiers and takes care of abused and ‘forgotten’ children. The CosmoGolem gives these children an identity and a voice. Peter Adriaenssens, child psychiatrist and chairman of the Care Centre for Child Abuse in Leuven (B), has also ‘embraced’ the statue. ‘As soon as I saw Koen Vanmechelen's ‘CosmoGolem’, I realised its link to the subject of traumatised children: deceivingly unmoved on the outside, the giant resembles the child.’ Doctor Adriaenssens is using it in his therapy.
The Cosmogoelm nevers tops looking for places where it can land and bring hope to people in need. The ultimate dream of the artist and everyone taking part in the project is to plant Cosmogolems all over the world, and connect them.